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Supreme Court grants two more contempt case writs

The Supreme Court of Virginia will consider whether two Virginia Beach lawyers received proper due process protections when they were held in contempt in the course of a criminal trial.

A case that began when lawyer Claude Scialdone offered a document of questionable authenticity in defense of his client has wound through a Court of Appeals panel and then produced a en banc affirmance of the contempt judgments from a sharply-divided court.  The majority opinion written by Judge Arthur Kelsey held that the lawyers failed to make timely objections to the summary contempt proceedings of Circuit Judge Patricia West.

Three dissenters claimed that the majority elevated form over substance, an argument that appears to run through the assignments of error in the writs granted in the cases of Scialdone and Barry R. Taylor on May 28.

The Scialdone and Taylor appeals join two other lawyer contempt cases on the Supreme Court docket, both involving attorneys who told clients to stay home because they anticipated continuances.

By Peter Vieth

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